To no one’s surprise, the favorites to win the 2022 college football championship are the Alabama Crimson Tide. Nick Saban has cemented his legacy as the greatest coach in the history of the sport with his seventh national championship earlier this week. Alabama has now won six titles since Saban came to Tuscaloosa in 2007, rejuvenating a program that had fallen on hard times and making it stronger than ever before.
Top Five Contenders…Then Everyone Else
There is a clear separation between the top five teams entering next season and everyone else. Alabama, Clemson, Georgia, Ohio State, and Oklahoma are all college football blue bloods, and they have proven to be consistent in the College Football Playoff era.
The Crimson Tide will lose a lot of offensive weapons from this year’s team, but Saban has continually reloaded during his time at Alabama. Saban’s worst record since 2008 was a mark of 10-3, and he hasn’t lost more than two games in any other season besides his first in Tuscaloosa. Alabama’s defense should be a lot better too, as this year’s team was the worst on that side of the ball during his tenure here.
Clemson looks to have another sensational quarterback in DJ Uiagalelei, and the Tigers have ruled the ACC like no other program has dominated its conference over the last six years. That has led to Clemson making six straight appearances in the College Football Playoff, so it’s impossible to count out the Tigers even if future No. 1 pick Trevor Lawrence is in the NFL.
The Bulldogs are one of just two teams (along with Ohio State) that recruit at the same level as Alabama. They have finally found their quarterback in JT Daniels, and he can bring this offense into the 21st Century.
Georgia had the best defense in the nation according to SP+ in 2020. Kirby Smart knows defense better than any other coach in the game today (including Saban), and the only thing that has been missing is a quarterback. The Bulldogs have an awesome run game and some very talented receivers, like George Pickens, so the sky is the limit with a healthy Daniels.
The Longer Shots
When you are looking for value further down the board, it’s important to look at the Blue Chip Ratio. This measure looks at the four- and five-star recruits a team has signed. The last ten national champions have all had a Blue Chip Ratio of at least 50 percent, making this a strong indicator to determine whether a team can win it all or not.
That measure eliminates Iowa State, Wisconsin, North Carolina, and Oregon from title contention. Those four teams are all going to be seen as trendy longshots, but don’t fall into that trap. They simply don’t have the horses to compete over the length of a long season, and you might be better served betting on a Group of Five team due to the continued backlash over how the Selection Committee treats teams outside of the Power Five.
The two most tempting longshots are Texas A&M and Penn State. Jimbo Fisher is in the process of building a powerhouse in College Station just as he did with Florida State, and the loss of Kellen Mond won’t hurt nearly as much as some believe. The Aggies don’t have anyone that should give them a challenge in their non-conference schedule, and they host both Alabama and Auburn.
Penn State had a nightmare 2020 season, but James Franklin is one of the best coaches in college football. The Nittany Lions continue to recruit well, and it’s highly unlikely they suffer the bad breaks that submarined last year’s campaign.